Taking Back More of the Plot: Lower Garden War Plans

As the weather warms up so do the weeds but there are some jobs we need to get ahead with. Then it rains. This is typical Yorkshire weather. The kind of weather that threatens rain then does nowt; other than brood over you. Then there's the other kind of brooding cloud that threatens and follows through. This normally happens seconds after you have had a bit of sun on your neck, and you have foolishly stripped off your jumper and hung it up on a fence post. You then are subject to a Yorkshire shower, which means a cold bucket of water being tipped over your head. This is a typical April shower. We have May showers too and just in case the remaining ten months feel left out they too get a chance at drenching you to the skin in seconds. The weather in Yorkshire is an equal opportunities employer when it comes to rain but never sticks around to do an evaluation. We meant to build new staging last week and we looked at the weather report, we picked a dry, sunny day, stacked the wood outside and went in the shed for our drill. We got an inkling it was raining when we saw Russell Crowe sail past the shed window as we rooted for the drill in the cupboard. The wood was drenched and is now in the glasshouse drying out. There are seeds to sow but no staging to house them on. We are in a Catch 22 situation. Yet, as the wood dries we have other jobs we can tackled between the rain belts. Over the last four seasons, from our first foray into the jungle, to a more middle of the road allotment, via a disaster drenched year and into the war years we have been claiming back foot after foot of lost garden from rubble, weeds and the remains of the laurel hedges. Now comes one of the final sections closest to the house.

Claiming back the land with no digging.

Most gardening books will advise you to work from the house outwards into your garden. It will give you a sense of achievement unless you garden on a hill. Here those books forget that hills are great to walk down but a bugger to walk up, and after a hard days grafting are a bugger to walk up or down; especially when you get to the bottom of the hill and remember you have left your mobile phone at the top of it. Those are the swearing days. There is a blue streak that runs through anyone who has brought a derelict plot back to life. Gardening is overrun by four letter poetry, especially when it comes to finding something in the shed. Also, when it comes to moving rubble and things that were once something useful in the garden but now all that remains is a chunk of large iron (we have found a lot of these things and it becomes like a bizarre, pointless game of charades - can you tell what it is yet? No), it's far easier to get them down a hill over ground that you're not worried about flattening crops in. This included rolling four large ash root balls down the hill, this wasn't planned, it's called gravity. So, since 2010, we have been working down our hill towards the house and today saw us tackle one of the larger areas. 

Clearing the land to be used.

This has been home for stacked turf, found bricks, three iron poles that once carried a listing washing line, some mysterious pieces of metal that got Indiana Jones hot under the collar until he realised they were pretty dull, a myriad of tin soldiers all flattened, some pig bones, those now dry tree root balls and a ton or two of rubble for path building. We have big ambitions for this part of the garden but refuse to dig it. There are two reasons for this, the retaining wall needs rebuilding and loosening the top soil and subsoil will only spell disaster, and finally, it does ruin the soil. Yes, we are the Wartime Gardeners who think digging is not a good idea. This is why for the last few years we have been stacking old turf here, it is now a crumbly loam.

Mulch your soil, don't dig it.

You can see above that we raked it out over the patchy grass as a thick ten inch mulch. We added manure before covering the whole section with black plastic which we'll leave on until spring 2015. This will kill all the weeds, make a home for the worms and kill off the remains of the grass but we are not wasting the space.

Black plastic may be ugly but it will save your back.

We have four posts to drive in by the fence for our new fan trained cherries and we have around thirty old car tyres to stack on top of the plastic to plant potatoes in - yes, we know we are late there too but being late is part of growing. You have to garden with the season and frankly there is still frost on the cards up here.

Being patients in gardening

We've been doing the Wartime Garden for over a year now and as you can see below there is plenty to read but don't forget you can find the Wartime Garden,GrowingGreenFamily and Food playlists on our You Tube channel too plus we have content over on Instagramtwitter and Audioboo. With inspiration for your home and garden on Pinterest and our Facebook Page too. The page there contains a thriving community of over 1,000 people all interested in growing, baking and preserving; there we share our successes and disasters.

Some of the Wartime Garden links:

Wartime Garden: Harvest Festival

Digging for Victory: The Guardian Blog